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‘6 December’: two histories of construction and destruction
By Prof. Taher Mehmoud
|One-third of a century, though a small period in the lives of nations, is sometimes sufficient to bring about revolutionary changes. These changes can be positive as well as negative, depending very often on the temperament and character of nations, Somewhat similar thing has happened in the current history of our beloved country. 6 December 1960 and 6 December 1992 are important landmarks in our contemporary history. Whereas the former demonstrates the height of the character of Indian nation, the latter, when even less than one third of a century had elapsed, unfortunately shows the unbelievable depth of character. Let us briefly review these two dates.
In 1947 we heard the good news of the independence of our country but the tragedy of division of the country was a perilous blow on the mind and soul of the people of India. Indian Muslims who had finally decided to live on this side of the border were faced with a difficult period. In spite of their sense of patriotism and total indifference with Partition of the country, some sections of our countrymen were hesitant in accepting their rights and treat them as equal citizens of this country. However, under the leadership of of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi and subsequently under the leadership of builders of modern India like Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Azad, the Indian nation on the whole totally rejected the negative viewpoints of the above mentioned sections. As a result of the intelligence and farsightedness of those statesmen and leaders, the golden principle of secularism was adopted and the complete equality to all citizens irrespective of religion and faith was enshrined in the Constitution. There was a question mark on the future of the great University of Aligarh also, set up by the great and eminent reformer of the country, Sir Syed Ahmad. Some communal forces were bent upon destroying it and proposals for the exchange of Dayanand Anglo-Vedic College building at Lahore with Aligarh University Campus, nurtured with the blood and toil of Muslims, were unhesitatingly being offered, But ignoring these unreasonable proposals, the great statesman of the time and the country’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru appointed his colleague and special adviser, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad as the country’s first Education Minister, thus ensuring and strengthening the national rights of Muslims in the fields of arts and culture. The minister for education, on his part, by appointing Dr. Zakir Hussain, the eminent educationist of the country as the vice chancellor of Aligarh University, entrusted this historical institution to the safest hands. These laudable steps changed the course of time and put the country on the road of secularism and social justice. Nine years after the independence the Prime Minister Pundit Nehru himself laid the foundation stone of a grand library in the Aligarh Muslim University. Then, after the death of Maulana Azad, this library was named after him. The Prime Minister went to Aligarh and himself inaugurated this library. The historic function of inauguration of this grand Maulana Azad library, set up after Independence in the greatest educational institution of Muslims in India took place on 6 December 1960.
Now let us see the scene 32 years later.In the holy city of Ayodhya a four hundred year-old historical mosque was demolished in broad daylight in the presence of the authorities in the afternoon of the last month of 1992. The Constitution that provided secular government and polity and complete equality for the followers of all religions in the country was torn to shreds. The saviours and guardians of the Constitution and law could not do any thing but to remain silent spectators. The way had in fact already been cleared for this shameless aggression. Politicians and their news media in spite of having penetrating eyes and minds had started avoiding, as a matter of expediency, to call the mosque a ‘mosque.’ According to them, a centuries-old and familiar mosque had become a ‘disputed structure’ overnight and consequently this self-made ‘structure’ was destroyed after only a few hours of disruptive activity. This extremely unfortunate incident of 1992 which gave a serious blow to the soul of this ancient, spiritual country i.e, India and stigmatized the country and nation in the eyes of the international human brotherhood, also took place on 6 December.
There was a sea of difference between this common date of separate years spanning a period of less than one-third of a century. 6 December 1960 was the date of country and nation building, 6 Dec 1992 was the date of subversion. Both dates had their full impact on the present and future of the country. The first date raised the stature of us Indians in the international arena by strengthening the secular-legal structure and traditional knowledge and learning, the other lowered the prestige of Indian nation before the international community by tearing to pieces the superiority of law in the country and its historical religious tolerance. Heavens and earth will be at their wits end by this contemptible change in the tradition of the country and nation during the period of less than one-third of a century.
People have now completely forgotten the importance of 6th December 1960 after forty years; but the consequences of 6th December 1992 still remain today after eight years. The tradition of religious tolerance, superiority of law, legal safeguard of right to education of weaker sections, all these are becoming outdated concepts day by day. Under these circumstances all of us patriots should get awake from slumber and try our best for complete protection and security of secularism in the constitution and internationally accepted human rights. The incident of 6 Dec 1992 was an unfortunate and disdainful deviation from the ancient tradition of India. We should learn a lesson for respect of law and protection of Constitution for future. The golden performance of 6 Dec 1960 was in total conformity with Constitutional requirements. We should accept it as our objective and get ready to restore secularism in the country and secure educational rights of the minorities. This is the message of today’s unforgettable history. This is the day of admonition as well as the day of planning. Let us fulfill its requirements collectively.
(Translated from Urdu) q